Sambal Ikan Bilis (I)

Sunday, 30 October 2011

The good news is, anchovy stocks have doubled because their predators – the type that doesn't have legs – have declined sharply in numbers. This is where we, the two-legged predators, need to step up our efforts. Eat more anchovies, people!

I don't know about you but I don't need much persuasion to eat sambal ikan bilis. The salty little fishies and deep-fried peanuts make a perfect ménage à trois with the sweet and spicy sambal.

Nasi lemak
simply woudn't be complete without some sambal ikan bilis. No coconut rice? Never mind, it also goes well with Teochew porridge and steamed rice. Or just eat it on its own, but be warned that once you start nibbling, you won't stop till you eat everything. Which is fine if it's everything on the plate. Just don't go eating every anchovy in the oceans.

9 July 2012 Update

(Recipe for 6 cups)
Sambal (makes 1 cup)
40 g lemongrass, white part only
150 g shallots
75 g garlic
20 g ginger
50 g red chillies
15 g dried chillies
trim stems, cut 2 cm long, soak in warm water till soft, about 30 minutes; squeeze dry and discard water
15 g belachan
roast at 150°C or dry-fry over medium-low heat till dry and crumbly
80 ml vegetable oil
20 g tamarind paste
mash with 2 tbsp hot water, drain and discard seeds
30 g palm sugar, roughly chopped

vegetable oil for deep-frying
150 g peanut
½ tsp salt
250 g ikan bilis, gutted and split
4 tbsp sugar

Rempah (spice paste): Wash, trim, peel and roughly chop lemongrass, shallots, garlic, ginger and red chillies as appropriate. Grind or pound with dried chillies and belachan till smooth. Set aside.

Peanuts: Deep-fry in warm vegetable oil over medium-low heat, stirring, till light brown. This should take 4 minutes or so. Turn off heat. Remove peanuts from oil. Immediately season with salt. Set aside.

Anchovies: Rinse briefly and immediately dry with paper towels. Heat oil till just smoking. Add anchovies and deep-fry over high heat, stirring, till lightly golden. Push anchovies to side of wok. Let oil reheat to just smoking. Stir anchovies into oil and fry till almost golden brown. Turn off heat. Continue stirring till residual heat dissipates. Place anchovies with peanuts.

Sambal: Remove excess oil from wok, leaving about 80 ml. Stir-fry spice paste over medium-low heat till fragrant, colour darkens and oil separates. Add palm sugar. Stir till melted. Add tamarind water. Stir till evaporated. Turn off heat. Remove to a bowl.

Mix: Remove oil from the wok. Over medium heat, stir sugar till melted. Reduce heat to very low. Add peanuts and anchovies. Toss till evenly coated. Add sambal. Toss thoroughly. Taste and add more sugar if necessary. Turn off heat. Remove to a plate to cool down completely.

Serve: sambal ikan bilis is excellent with steamed rice, nasi lemak, or Teochew porridge. Also makes a great nibble. Store leftovers in the fridge, tightly covered unless you like your fridge smelling of fish.


Blur Ting said...

One of my all time fav!

Anonymous said...

I would happily sit in your kitchen for a week eating anything and everything that comes off your stove-top or out of the oven!

Raring to try your kaya recipe this weekend.

sambalbajak said...

Oh I love sweet Sambal Ikan Bilis! That spread of delicious food is definitely worth gaining a few pounds! Yum!

ikan bilis confusion said...

Hi KT, love your recipes! Was wondering how long we can keep dried ikan bills in the fridge? Want to make this but not sure if my stock has gone bad (no smell, but has white specks? Can't tell if that is from the fish powder or it's gone moldy! :P)

KT said...

How long you may keep ikan bilis in the fridge is now irrelevant. The question you should ask is: how do I tell if my ikan bilis is mouldy?

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